They say that everyone should keep a journal (who are they? No idea. But they do have an opinion on just about everything). Even if we aren’t the sharing type, being able to vent your feelings and frustrations is apparently a healthy habit. I have had several incarnations of journals and diaries over the years.
When I was young, I was paranoid of my most secret thoughts being found out, so I used to keep a folder filled with journal entries written in Word with all files password locked and on a 3.5” floppy disk that I kept hidden in the wall in my bedroom. That proved to be a terrible idea. Back in the day, if you forgot your password, you were kind of shit out of luck. Which is, of course, exactly what happened.
Later in my teens I kept various notebooks with journal entries sandwiched between story ideas. Sort of a camouflage for them. I may still have a couple of those notebooks kicking around somewhere, but I think I lost or burned most of them at some point.
Did I mention that I was a little paranoid when I was a kid? Not that I really had any reason to be. I was just very protective of my secrets, and I was bad at sharing my feelings. If I could figure a way to get into something, then I figured that anyone else could too. It took me a lot of years to realize that just because someone can get into something, doesn’t mean that they have the inclination to do so. It’s strangely comforting to know that no one cares at all about your secrets.
In my adult years, my off again/on again journalling habit moved online. I have been through various blogs on more platforms that I can even remember. I’m pretty sure most of them have been pulled down by now. Which is ok, really. I don’t keep a journal to chronicle my life. I keep it to vent. Once the venting is done, I’m good.
These days I waffle between notebooks and smart phone apps. I love the feeling of writing long hand, and in the last year I dove into the habit face first and never looked back. I write in my journal for at least an hour almost every day. As you might guess, this causes me to go through a lot of notebooks, and even more ink. School supply season is my favourite time of year.
As for apps, I have been through quite a few. I have JotterPad on my Android devices because it is simple, clean, it syncs to my Google Drive if I need it to, or the pages can be stored locally on the device. Personally, that is really what I’m after in a journal keeping app. I don’t need reminders or prompts or stickers or inspirational quotes. I just need a space where I can let my fingers do the walking (and talking … sort of).
Since the iPad has been in my life, I’ve had to find something new (because cross-platform grudges aren’t contained solely on Apple’s side apparently — why can’t we all just get along?). Enter Journey. This is a cross-platform app, which is the first major plus on its side.
It is cloud compatible, so there is always a back up in case your tablet/smartphone catches fire or something. The interface is clean and easy to use. It supports photo inclusion, emojis (which I use way too many of), location tracking (for when you need to spill your guts on vacation … hopefully not literally), it even adds the weather if you want it to. It is free for the basic version, which has all I really need in it, but you can upgrade to various plans for a one time cost. It also can be passcode or fingerprint locked if you suffer from bouts of paranoia or have kids who are old enough to read (yeah, that would be me).
I have had this app for about two weeks, and I am averaging three entries a day. This thing is going to save me a fortune in pen refills. I type way faster than I can write long hand, so my thought to page time is much quicker. Does this stop me from spending over an hour journalling in the mornings? Nope. I just ramble more.
However you do it, I whole heartedly recommend keeping a journal. It’s the quickest and most reliable cure for writers block that I know of. And if all you get written is your journal entry for the day, well, that still counts. You’re still practising your craft and getting better at it even if the words don’t make it into your WIP.